Alex Cisak has taken the most roundabout route to Accrington possible – and he will be clocking up a few more miles as he chases an Olympic dream.
The 21-year-old keeper has set himself the double challenge of becoming Stanley’s first choice and helping Australia’s Under-23 side qualify for the London Olympics in 2012.
Cisak went to the Under-20 World Cup in Egypt with Australia last autumn, along with Liverpool’s Dean Bouzanis, who himself went on to enjoy a loan spell at Stanley after the tournament.
Both keepers are in contention to be first choice for the Olympic side, but Cisak is determined to get the shirt.
And he is equally eager to win a first-team spot at the Crown Ground, where he will compete with Ian Dunbavin for the Stanley keeper’s jersey.
Cisak arrived at Stanley from Leicester, where he had been since the age of 16 before being released at the end of last season.
Born in the Polish city of Krakow, he moved with his family to Hobart, in Australia, at the age of two.
So he is accustomed to travelling – which is probably just as well, because he faces a lot of that as he chases club and international ambitions.
He said: "I’ve played five games for Australia’s Under-20 side, and I went to the Under-20 World Cup last year, which was a great experience.
"I’ve been speaking to the Australia goalkeeping coach and I’ll be in and around the squad for the Olympic qualifiers as well, which will be coming up soon. Hopefully, I’ll be involved there as well.
"I’ve done so much travelling with Australia and Leicester. You do get used to it.
"And I’m happy to do it, because it means I get more games and more experience, which will always help me."
Cisak could not make the first-team breakthrough during his stint at Leicester, where he was not helped by chairman Milan Mandaric’s frequent changing of managers.
Craig Levein, Rob Kelly, Martin Allen, Gary Megson, Ian Holloway and Nigel Pearson all had stints in the manager’s chair while Cisak was there, as did caretakers Jon Rudkin, Steve Beaglehole, Mike Stowell, Frank Burrows and Gerry Taggart.
And there were times when the young keeper did not know whether he was coming or going.
He said: "It was crazy at times. I think we went through about 10 or 11 managers in five years.
"One year, we had six. It was really hard to settle in, because you did well under one manager, who was going to offer you a new contract, and then he got sacked and you had to start again. That happened three or four times.
"It was a bit unfortunate, but that’s football.
"That kind of insecurity is not good for anyone, really. You’d like to have a future planned out. But if you work hard, you can make a future for yourself."
Cisak was not helped by a wrist injury that halted his progress towards the end of his time at Leicester.
He added: "I fractured my wrist when Leicester were in League One, and I was out for a good six months with that.
"Then I came back into training and was in pain. I was told it was fine, but it wasn’t. I ended up having an operation on it again, and wasn’t fit until May.
"I’m fully fit now. Pre-season was the first time I’d trained fully in about nine months, so it’s been quite hard for me to get back into shape.
"I’m still a little bit off, but I’m still working hard to get my sharpness back."
Cisak acknowledged that it was a difficult time for him when Leicester let him go, but he was always hopeful of finding another club.
He said: "I always had faith in my ability, but you don’t know where you’re going to be for the new season, which is a bit worrying.
"I knew I had the ability to get a club, and I’m sure I’ll do well this season.
"I spoke to the gaffer, and I feel I’ve got a good chance of playing. That’s the main reason I came here.
"I just want to play. I want to get as many games under my belt as I can, and to have a good first season in professional football. That’s my aim.
"It’s up to me and Ian Dunbavin really. We’re both working hard, we’re both playing well in games. It’s up to the gaffer who he starts as No.1."